In this article I want to try to give you at least the right questions to ask when selecting the best marathon running shorts for you.
Armed with the right questions, you should be able to make a much more informed decision.
I’ll finish with some of the best marathon shorts I’ve found from my research to help you with your selection.
Where to start looking for your shorts
First things first, here are a few key points that are worth understanding before we get into the nitty gritty of what to look for.
As with any specialist topic, you will find there is lots of jargon to wade through and translate.
So look at this section as a bit of a glossary of terms when it comes to running and running shorts.
What are compression shorts, and how do they help?
This is probably one bit of jargon, you can probably have a good guess at.
This type of short does exactly what it says on the tin.
Compression shorts are simply shorts that fit tightly.
As for how they can help, the idea is the compression provides muscle support.
In addition, the compression in theory helps with better blood flow to the vital areas.
Together, all this means less chafing, less injuries and better performance.
(And believe me, anything that will prevent/reduce chafing is ALWAYS worth considering)
What’s the reason for the lining in running shorts?
Most good running shorts (including those designed for marathons) include a lining.
The lining is designed to keep you secure and comfortable downunder (especially us blokes).
Along with the secure fit, the material of the lining will provide good ventilation.
This combination is designed to make sure that comfort is kept to a maximum…
…at the same time, the chafe creating combo of moisture and rubbing is kept to a minimum.
What surprises most people is that the idea the lining is supposed to REPLACE the need for underwear.
If you wear both, some of the benefits the linings provide are undermined.
You will normally find that running shorts will either have a lining OR provide the compression mentioned previously.
Running short measurements
When looking for running shorts to buy, you will find there is more than just waist size to consider.
You will find that most running shorts will come with a length measurement.
To be precise, this is the measurement between the crotch of the shorts and the bottom of the leg.
If you are of average height, this translates to:
– a 3 inch short reaching the upper thigh
– a 5 inch short reaching the mid thigh
– a 7 inch short reaching just above the knee.
I’ll look at the size of shorts in more detail in the next section along with the pros and cons of each type.
I’ll also give you what I believe is the size to look for when searching out the best shorts for running a marathon.
Styles of Running Shorts
Not only will you be faced with different lengths of running shorts, there is also the style to consider:
We have already discussed these, so I won’t go on about them.
However, when it comes to running a marathon, you should think carefully if they are for you.
I personally find this type of short to be far too restrictive when running long distances.
It is worth pointing out though, when Eliud Kipchoge ran his unofficial sub-2 hour marathon, he was wearing compression shorts.
So what do I know 🙂
The next two are very similar, but it’s worth understanding the difference.
V-Notch Running Shorts
These are very easy to spot as they have what looks like an upside down ‘V’ on the outside of the leg.
As you might imagine, the idea about this design is to give your leg room for full movement with no restrictions.
Split Running Shorts
At first glance these might seem the same as the V-notch shorts, in that they have the inverted ‘V’ at the side.
With the ‘split variety though, you will find that the material from the front of the leg overlaps that of the back.
This design not only helps with increased airflow but also maximises leg movement.
What You Need To Consider When Choosing the Best Shorts for Running a Marathon
The first thing to say is that there are no hard and fast rules.
As with most decisions there are pros and cons to any choice.
Also what I find important, you might not.
Having said all that, let’s at least look at the things that you will have to consider.
I’ll of course give you my thoughts about what I think are the best shorts for running a marathon in, but they are just that…
OK, on with the options…
How Long Should my Marathon Running Shorts Be?
As I mentioned in the previous section, there are several popular lengths of shorts and I want to drill a little bit deeper into each of them.
You will find this is one of the key factors in the marathon running shorts you choose.
3 Inch (Short length) There are two great benefits when it comes to ‘short’ shorts.
Namely, there is the range of movement they provide and the ventilation.
Whether you are running 26 miles, or 100m both of these things come as a great help.
And this is why you find that a lot of elite athletes will go for this style.
So if you are going for all out performance, the best short for running a marathon would be of the 3 inch variety.
5 Inch (Medium length) If you are after a more versatile short, the compromise of 5 inch shorts would be a good choice.
Giving a little more protection to your legs, whilst still providing most of the ventilation and the light weight provided by the 3-inch shorts.
7 Inch (Long length) The big advantage of this type of short is the protection it provides for the leg.
For our objective, i.e. finding the best shorts for marathon running, 7 inch shorts are probably best avoided.
However, if the idea of the extra protection appeals to you, make sure you look for material that won’t retain heat and moisture.
What Material Should My Shorts Be Made From
The other thing to consider when choosing marathon shorts, is the material they are made of.
Although I have it last on the list here, the short material is probably going to be one of your first considerations.
The materials used tend to fall into two categories, synthetic and natural fibers.
You will find that the majority of the running shorts you you come across will be the synthetic variety.
Modern man-made fibres have been designed to draw (wick) moisture from the body.
This wicking ensures the comfort factor remains high no matter how tough things get.
With regards to natural fibres like cotton, they will tend to keep hold of the moisture.
And although under certain circumstances, friction and moisture can be pleasurable…
…running is not one of those circumstances 😉
So if you don’t want to finish with chafing and a rash, the best marathon running shorts are going to made with man made fibres.
Do You Want A Pocket?
One detail you might not consider when you first start looking for your shorts is whether or not it has a pocket.
Although not a major consideration, a pocket can add convenience to running shorts.
A pocket will give you somewhere to put your key when out on your many training runs.
A pocket can also be very useful to store your energy providing Jelly Babies as you make your progress around the 26 miles of the marathon.
Just be aware though, having a full pocket catch and rub is going to cause damage over that same 26 miles!
A Selection Of The Best Shorts For Running a Marathon In
You are now armed with what you should know when choosing the best shorts for running a marathon.
Below I’ve tried to shortcut things with a number of the best rated running shorts available currently.